JOHN C. DURHAM
A B O U T
John Durham is a lifelong designer of buildings, starting when accepted as a Taliesin Apprentice by Mrs. Frank Lloyd Wright, October 24, 1963. His recently completed project in New Mexico represents the synthesis of his three obsessions: architectural beauty, innovative technology, and affordable construction of buildings that allowed the Outside to be experienced from Inside the home. John gave decades to close study the natural artistic principals Wright discovered then created in buildings. These understandings are shared on this site with Clients in actual complete building plans and construction services offered. Other Designers who deeply desire to understand how Wright so often successfully designed a beautiful building can find explanations given in Classes or even become involved in ongoing building as Apprentices working assisting the Designer on plans and working closely with builders and engineers on construction projects.
Anyone can also order the Architecture Book for Children which fully explains to anyone's understanding of natural artistic principals of Beauty and dynamics of Creative thinking Frank Lloyd Wright applied to architecture design, material and structure.
DEER CANYON PRESERVE, NEW MEXICO
Cantilever roof support beams on concrete walls and fireplace.
This Website was started recently (in Middle Feb, 2020). We will need some more time to put up all the pictures and other special features and offerings. I hope you enjoy pictures that are up so far.
In building the New Mexico house, John sought to combine the features of Frank Lloyd Wright’s best houses, his own design and construction innovations, along with the needs of the clients and the nature of the surrounding landscape.
Like Wright, Durham emphasizes a consistent usage of forms, continuing lines throughout the course of a house and giving the house unity and beauty. The dramatic cantilever, the horizontal terraces created by the roof lines and the windows, and the overall rootedness in the ground also reflect Wright’s influences.
This, however, is a modern house, much more practical and fitted to contemporary needs: the roof is not completely flat and so will not leak, the windows are huge and flood the house with natural light, the kitchen is large and open, and the house includes a two-car garage.
This might be the greenest house ever built, and we don’t just mean in terms of the environment. Green also means money — money saved in tax credits and energy costs, the repair and replacement of equipment and building materials, and the general comfort afforded by a house that is never too hot or too cold.
• The house is exquisite, a work of art inside and out, a source of wonder for the eyes, providing an endless sense of discovery and pleasure as it unfolds over hours of just looking.
• Zero air-conditioning used in the 110 degree summers
• Next-generation fireplace is more efficient than any wood, oil or gas stove
• 75,000 gallons of rainwater collected last year for drinking and landscaping
• High clerestory windows make daytime lighting of the interior unnecessary
• Less than $185/square foot to build
• Includes custom windows, doors, cabinets, and built-in bookshelves
• Tremendous reduction in energy usage provides a lifetime of savings
The walls are made of insulative concrete that is 80% air, keeping the house cool in the summers and warm in the winter. The summer R factor 46, the winter R factor is 35 (which can be brought up to 40 or 50 in Northern areas)
The patented, radically innovative fireplace, open on two sides, is more efficient than any wood, gas or oil stove. Temperatures above 1500 degrees are broadcast through masonry to provide comfortable, radiant heat. The exhaust from the chimney is cleaner than that of a natural gas heating system.
The design of the roof collected 75,000 gallons of rain and melted frost last year for landscaping and drinking water in an area where wells contain unhealthy levels of sulfate and calcium.
The roof is covered with proven 30-year Seamen Fibertight material. Compacted, condensation-defeating fiberglass, along with insulated eaves, provides an R value of 60 in the roof.
Custom, gas-filled windows are framed in anti-condensation wood. 24 of the 46 floor-to-ceiling windows open on locking, stainless steel piano hinges, bringing the natural world right into the interior.
The 16 foot cantilever is supported by Flitch beams that run the entire length of the house, giving it a tremendously strong 2-to-1 leverage advantage. This striking form provides deep shade in summer and a sheltered outdoor living room.
High, clerestory windows fill the rooms and hallways with natural light and air, eliminating the need for daytime lighting and air-conditioning. These, combined with the highly insulated walls and roof, allow the house to use zero air-conditioning, even on 110 degree F summer days in the desert just north of the Mexican border. In fact, an air-conditioner isn’t even installed in the house.
The enormous amount of passive heat provided by the large windows means that zero heating is required in the bright rooms, even at 7,000 feet altitude on winter days that get down to -10 F. This natural heat source is supplemented throughout the house by regulation radiant heat in the floors.
Sophisticated engineering and concrete-steel construction puts most of the weight of the hurricane-rated Lifetime roof on deep internal and exterior footings underneath the internal frame. This allows the outer shell to feature spectacular cantilevers and header-less, true floor-to-ceiling windows and doors facing SE, S, SW.